Few things can be as maddening as constantly adjusting a photo, picture, or mirror hanging crooked on a wall. There are plenty of “methods” for hanging something straight the first time. In fact, if you’ve ever hung anything ranging from a towel rack to a mirror to a shelf, you’ve likely wrestled with a non-helpful template designed to make hanging whatever it is “a snap!” However, there is a tool you can put in your toolbox – next to your stud finder – that will take all of the irritating guesswork out of hanging something straight and true: a torpedo level. Generally shorter than a foot, they’re designed to make it simple to know when something is, well, level.
We’ll admit, levels are simple stuff, and you probably already know what you’re looking for. But, there are some things you should keep in mind. This may be a light read, but we are happy to give you some pointers for buying your next torpedo level!
Torpedo level featuring four vials and all-metal construction. This entry best performs when used by electricians but is a perfect addition to anyone’s collection.
- Four vials enhance capabilities
- Durable design protects performance
- Can be hung from pipes or conduit
- Color makes it very easy to see
- Dedicated design can present limitations
Small and affordable torpedo level perfect for many uses. Despite its price, this level offers exceptional performance.
- Extremely affordable
- Features three vials for standard abilities and V-groove for use on round surfaces
Combination of three levels for use in all settings. This set includes a torpedo level, along with two other spirit levels that offer unmatched reliability and accuracy.
- Three levels for complete collection
- Superior accuracy and reliability
- All-metal construction and powder coating prolong tool life
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Benefits of Torpedo Levels
- Check level in tight spaces. Torpedo levels are small and easier to use in tight spaces. You can quickly check level from inside cabinets, on top of pipes, or against any other surface that cannot accommodate a broad level.
- Keep a level on your person. Full-length levels have their place, but that’s not in your tool belt. Torpedo levels are easy to carry on you at all times. You can keep them in any tool pouch, bag, box, or even in your pocket.
- Less susceptible to damage. Torpedo levels are small and less susceptible to damage because of it. They are far less likely to be struck and are typically more rigid than larger comparable construction models.
Types of Torpedo Levels
A traditional torpedo level is just that, a torpedo level. There may be many variations of them on the market, but they never stray far from their primary function. You can easily keep these small levels in a tool box or belt and use to quickly find the level in any setting. Some variations may include the inclusion of a magnetic base, a grooved surface for use on pipes, or even the ability to illuminate the vials.
Combination tools are always present, and this category's levels may combine a laser function or tape measure into their body. In many cases, they perform pretty well, but if you want one to use in a professional setting, you’re going to spend big money. If you’re interested in the best laser measuring tools or the best tape measures, we suggest you check out our separate buying guides on either.
Stabila got its start back in 1889. This German company has always had a clear focus on building the best precision yardsticks and spirit levels. More than 100 years later, it is still perfecting the craft, and it's no surprise the Stabila 2 Spirit Levels and Type 81 SM 10-Inch Pro Set is one of our favorites.
Klein has been a leading developer of tools for electricians since 1857. Based in Lincolnshire, Ill., they've been creating the best and most useful tools for the industry's folks. And though the Klein Tools 935AB4V Level may have a focus on electrical work, it remains our favorite model on the market.
Torpedo Level Pricing
- Under $20: Most levels list for under $20, there are many cheap options, but many offer professional-level performance.
- $20 and up: Levels typically don’t list for much more than $20 unless you purchase kits or premium offerings. Combination models will also list in this price range.
- Precision Construction. The most crucial thing every level must offer is precise construction. Finding level is based on the body of the tool, so deviations are not acceptable. It cannot be warped or bent in any way, and the vials must sit in the proper position. Otherwise, your readings will be off, and the tool cannot perform its primary function.
- Durable Frame. A stable frame is ideal for any level. This will help protect the body from any impact or contact that can threaten the tool's integrity. Even those with a plastic body can provide accurate measurements for years to come when a protective frame is present. Full metal construction is typically better, but it isn’t always necessary.
- Vial Count. Having the right amount of vials at the right positions makes all the difference in the world. Your torpedo level should have at least three for checking level, plum, and 45-degree angles. Some models can have more, but their inclusion comes down to personal preference. Ideally, your level will also provide multiple viewing of these vials to allow you to use it in any position as well.
- Magnetic Base. A magnetic base is a highly desirable feature because it allows you to use the tool without your hands. This function can prove useful as you may be able to place the level on a surface and make the necessary adjustments to straighten it out. It can also prove handy when trying to check the level of objects that are above your head.
- Grooved Base. The grooved base on a torpedo level allows you to use it on round surfaces. While you may be able to get by with balancing a level on a round surface, you won’t get the best reading without a groove. This design isn’t a part of most levels, and you will need to keep an eye out for it.
- Additional Features. You can opt to select a model with additional features such as a built-in laser or even a tape measure. However, these designs can impede the level’s usefulness in other settings. Something like the ability to hang onto the end of a pipe is another additional feature that will further its abilities in almost any setting.
Best Torpedo Levels Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Starting with a useful design, this level provides users two ways to use it hands-free. Ideal for metal conduit bending, the level can be held in place using magnets – which are held in place with a special track – or the thumbscrew on the end. It’s also grooved on the bottom to make it rest on conduit or other round objects you’re trying to work on. Those two options make it ideal for a lot more than just conduits as well. Its bright orange coloring makes it easy to find in your toolbox as well as when it’s resting on whatever you’re trying to make level. At 9 inches long, the Klein Tools level boasts large, easy-to-read, high-visibility vials at four angles: level, 90, 45, and 30 degrees. It also can be read from the top, allowing for more readable angles.
There isn’t anything to not like about this level. However, it is designed to serve electricians best, and some features may limit its usefulness in other settings. Still, it makes an excellent addition to anyone’s tool box.
Simple and inexpensive, this level gets the job done. The nine-inch level has tapered ends to make it fit into tool belts, tool pouches, or work pant pockets. It can also be used in tight spaces. The level has three vials that show level, plumb, and 45 degrees. It has a high-impact plastic frame that is non-conductive and non-corrosive, and with its bright orange color it's easy to spot. The Johnson Level has a V-groove on the bottom for use on pipe, conduit, or other round surfaces. It comes with a one-year warranty against defects in material and workmanship for one year after the confirmed purchase date. At its option, the company will replace or repair the product if it fails under normal use.
Despite its low price, this level is excellent. However, its durability is a bit lacking, and it will break easily. But you can easily replace it, which makes it hard to complain about.
Stabila is highly respected by many folks in the industry, and it only makes sense to include one of its products in our list. And yes, this is a full set, so we are technically cheating by including it. However, it does have a torpedo level making it worthy of coverage. The levels in this set all share one thing in common, and that’s an emphasis on precision and reliability. Premium vials and a fluorescent liquid ensure the most accurate reading, and they are firmly held in place to ensure long-term accuracy. Furthermore, the bodies rely on high-quality aluminum with ribs to increase durability. Plastic end caps and powder coating also help protect against impacts and preserve the tool over years of use.
No, this isn’t the most affordable toolset, which will deter many users. However, these are the kind of levels you will have for years and years. Therefore, it’s something the professional needs to consider.
Many torpedo levels are just a hair under 10-inches long. This entry measures 12 inches, and that can come in handy in several situations. The foot-long level has rubber caps on both ends to prevent scratches and to help keep it in place. The clear green acrylic vials with top views let you read plumb, level, and 45 degrees easily and quickly. Made of heavy-duty aluminum alloy, the frame is light and strong with a bright orange powder coating, ensuring accuracy and durability. The level also has a hanging hole for simple storage as well as markings for a rule, allowing you to use it to measure and level at the same time. Additionally, it comes with a two-year protection plan.
The real problem with this entry is quality control. Too many users report poor castings and construction for it to be overlooked. However, it’s still worth mentioning because it’s both affordable and offers additional length.
If you want a level that does more than just check the level, this is an ideal choice. It’s good for doing small hanging jobs, but it can also be used for installing shelving, laying flooring, hanging wallpaper, and more. In addition to the level, it has an eight-foot long tape measure that includes imperial and metric linear measures, with graduations down to 1/32 inches and 1mm. The laser light on the level has an on/switch. The triple-positioned leveling bubble works with the laser level to provide the most accurate results. Separate from the tape measure, one side of the 7.5-inch long level is also marked as a six-inch ruler. It comes ready to go with a 3 x AG 13 button-cell battery.
Accuracy limits this tool from seeing professional use. And while it’s a great concept, it’s best for quick jobs where precision isn’t critical. Also, the plastic body is fragile and not cut out for the abuse it will see on the typical job site.
This set solves a lot of problems, including the need for a good torpedo level. This set comes with a nine-inch level as well as 12- and 24-inch box-beam levels. The nine-inch torpedo spirit level features three strong button magnets on one side, making it ideal for construction, civil and agricultural applications. It is thin and made of lightweight metal, allowing it to be used in small spaces while remaining durable. It has high-visibility green bubbles to aid with visibility in tight spaces. There is one vertical vial, one horizontal vial on the torpedo level while the box-beam levels have three vials to measure level, plumb, and 45 degrees. The torpedo level has rubberized end caps protect against shock and comfort grips for ease of handling.
These levels are shockingly good, considering the price. The only thing to complain about is overall durability. The metal body does a decent job of protecting itself, but a few bumps can cause severe damage.
Here we have another high-quality level you can score for a reasonable price. This is a great little level to keep in your tool belt, your tool box, or your pocket, no matter where you are working. It has a total of three vials to allow you to check pretty much anything for level, and it features a magnetic base. That means you can make measurements without shaky hands interfering with the accuracy. It also features a V-groove for use with pipes and round stock, and the top read vial allows you to use it in any position. It is constructed from extruded aluminum and features sturdy vial construction so that you don’t have to worry about it getting banged around while you work.
We can only take away points from this level because of some reports of poor manufacturing. A few problems are noted in the reviews regarding magnet strength and overall machining. However, it doesn’t appear to be a common issue, so you might not ever encounter problems with this option.
This entry is an option to consider if you need a few levels to perform quick tasks. The price is actually for three nine-inch torpedo levels, which makes this a deal that’s hard to pass up. The levels also feature pretty much everything you could expect from a higher dollar option. There are three vials on each, a magnetic base, and even a groove for measuring pipe or other round surfaces. You even have a top view angle to allow you to read the vial in virtually any position. The main body is constructed from plastic, but it does have a durable aluminum frame to protect it from abuse. There’s also a convenient hanging hole so you can safely store it on a pegboard or other hanging storage option.
The problem with this level is accuracy; it’s pretty much what can be expected from such a low-dollar option. Especially when plastic is used in construction, it’s still great for quick projects where small deviations aren’t going to matter.
Johnson may have taken our pick for Best Value, but that doesn't mean they only focus on budget-oriented tools. This is a laser level and gives you the ability to double-check accuracy in many ways. You can set it up to make sure your pipe is perfectly pitched from just one position. Or you can use it to ensure the bookshelf is on the money across the room. You can even make sure your lights are hanging right where they need to be. It's pretty handy when you use the laser function, but you can use it as a traditional torpedo level whenever you need to. It's got three different vials and a magnetic base, meaning it's pretty much the only torpedo level you'll need.
This tool does have its limitations and isn't something to use for unusually large projects. For use in average size rooms, it's perfect. Anything above average or for tasks such as building fences, accuracy becomes questionable.
Stabila is back again and happens to be our final entry. If you liked our first entry but are interested solely in the torpedo level, this is it. This level is going to over superior accuracy and reliability even through years of use. It has a rigid, die-cast frame that’s precision machining ensures a level surface. It also features a robust powder-coat finish to resist corrosion and abuse. The magnetic base uses a strong rare earth magnet to secure it to metallic surfaces and provide the most accurate readings. The vials themselves are also engineered with precision in mind to give you peace of mind. It’s also worth mentioning that the vials are virtually unbreakable, so you don’t have to worry about little bumps shattering them.
This model does not have a grooved base and can only take measurements from one side.
These are essential factors to consider because it isn’t ideal for use with pipes or round surfaces. However, this isn’t necessarily a flaw because the tool was never intended for those uses.
- Always check your level against different levels before using it to ensure it is providing accurate readings.
- Always avoid impact. Even a protective frame is susceptible to damage that will render the tool useless.
- Always keep measuring instruments in safe storage areas. Impacts with other tools can cause damage that interferes with their accuracy.
- Take the time to make sure your level and the surface you place it against are clean. A thin layer of dirt or gunk can throw your reading off.
- Torpedo levels are handy, but if the room allows you to use a larger level, you should. Covering a larger area can provide more accurate readings.
Torpedo Level FAQs
Q. How accurate is a torpedo level?
Torpedo levels are just as accurate as other levels when used in the right settings. On small pieces of material, they are dead-on. But on large surfaces, they might not provide the best reading, and a broader level is a better choice.
Q. What is the most accurate level?
In our opinion, Stabila offers the best levels. But they are more costly than most, and there are excellent options at lower price points.
Q. What is the best Stabila level?
Stabila has two entries on our list. But because we are focusing on torpedo levels, we must suggest the Stabila 10-Inch Die-Cast Rare Earth Magnetic Level.
Even if we give Stabila plenty of praise, the Klein Tools 935AB4V Level is our top pick based on its performance and affordable pricing. But we do know many will cop themselves a Johnson Level & Tool Torpedo Level because it’s so inexpensive.
But what about you? Which torpedo level are you taking home?